Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey defendant skips her trial, checks into a mental health facility

NEW PORT RICHEY — The jury was picked, and the lawyers were ready to go.

Laurette Philipsen, 54, stood accused of using her employer's personal information to run up more than $100,000 in debt.

But on Wednesday morning, when opening arguments were supposed to begin in Circuit Judge Michael Andrews' courtroom, the defendant was nowhere to be found. It turns out she had checked herself into a mental health facility, her lawyer said.

With that, the trial was canceled, the jury was sent home and a warrant was issued to take Philipsen into custody.

According to authorities, while Philipsen was working as the office manager for Dr. Louise Templeman, she used that position and access to open bank accounts and take out loans in Templeman's name, leaving the doctor on the hook for some $160,000 in debt.

Philipsen, of 7240 Westwind Drive in Port Richey, was arrested last year and charged with scheming to defraud, criminal use of personal identification and grand theft. (The grand theft charge was later dropped.)

Authorities say it wasn't the first time Philipsen stole from her employer. In 2006, she was accused of stealing money where she worked. She later pleaded no contest to grand theft, was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay nearly $40,000 in restitution.

But if she thought that case was behind her, she was wrong. Andrews ruled this week that prosecutors can use that evidence to prove her guilt in the current case.

Now, if she's convicted, Philipsen faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years, her attorney said.

Her trial had been previously set for July 20. She checked into a hospital that day too, and it was postponed.

The new date is Sept. 14.

There's no chance she'll miss it. She'll be in jail until then.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or (727) 869-6245.

Port Richey defendant skips her trial, checks into a mental health facility 08/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 7:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Adam Putnam calls for special session on medical marijuana


    Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam wants state lawmakers to come back to Tallahassee in a special session to finish the work on medical marijuana that they started but didn't finish earlier this month.

    Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is a candidate for governor in 2018.
  2. We Tried That: Working on a food truck for a day


    What we tried: It seems like everyone and their mother wants to open a food truck.

    Carlynn Crosby prepares food at the Empamamas food truck in the Cigar City Brewing parking lot in Tampa this month. For a variety of reasons, food trucking is not for the faint of heart.
  3. Local child welfare non-profits lose funding as Eckerd Kids focuses on keeping children out of foster care


    When it comes to getting children out of foster care, the non-profit group Directions for Living has one of the best records in Florida.

    Eckerd Kids
  4. Carlton: A little less swagger, Mr. Mayor?


    In the dispute-gone-national over a bad joke uttered by Tampa's mayor, it is instructive to recall the nickname bestowed upon him by the local military.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn fires a .50 caliber machine gun from a rigid hull inflatable boat during the International Special Operations Capabilities Demonstration at the Tampa Convention Center Wednesday, June 25, 2016. JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

  5. What you need to know for Wednesday, May 24


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    A manatee swims near the entrance to Three Sisters Springs on Kings Bay, some of many springs that feed the Crystal River in Citrus County. The Southwest Florida Water Management District is considering a proposal that would allow a decrease to the amount of fresh water flowing in the Crystal River so that water can be diverted to fuel development. Critics say similar proposals around the state could threaten Florida's environmental health. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2014)]